Tag Archive: Japan

IWAKI, Japan — Kiyoko Okoshi had a simple goal when she spent about $625 for a dosimeter: she missed her daughter and grandsons and wanted them to come home.

Local officials kept telling her that their remote village was safe, even though it was less than 20 miles from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. But her daughter remained dubious, especially since no one from the government had taken radiation readings near their home.

So starting in April, Mrs. Okoshi began using her dosimeter to check nearby forest roads and rice paddies. What she found was startling. Near one sewage ditch, the meter beeped wildly, and the screen read 67 microsieverts per hour, a potentially harmful level. Mrs. Okoshi and a cousin who lives nearby worked up the courage to confront elected officials, who did not respond, confirming their worry that the government was not doing its job.

With her simple yet bold act, Mrs. Okoshi joined the small but growing number of Japanese who have decided to step in as the government fumbles its reaction to the widespread contamination, which leaders acknowledge is much worse than originally announced. Some mothers as far away as Tokyo, 150 miles to the south of the plant, have begun testing for radioactive materials. And when radiation specialists recently offered a seminar in Tokyo on using dosimeters, more than 250 people showed up, forcing organizers to turn some people away.

Even some bureaucrats have taken the initiative: officials in several towns in Fukushima Prefecture are cleaning the soil in schoolyards without help from the central government, and a radiation expert with the Health Ministry who quit his job over his bosses’ slow response to the nuclear accident is helping city leaders in Fukushima do their own monitoring.

Such activism would barely merit comment in the United States, but it is exceptional in a country where people generally trust their leaders to watch out for them. That faith has been eroded by a sense that government officials have been, at best, overwhelmed by the enormousness of the disaster, and at worst, hiding how bad things are.

“They don’t riot and they don’t even demonstrate very much, but they are not just sitting on their hands, either,” said Gerald Curtis, Burgess Professor of Political Science at Columbia University and a longtime Japan expert. “What the dosimeter issue reveals is that people are getting more nervous rather than less about radiation dangers.”

The corrosion of trust, at first aimed at faceless bureaucrats and lawmakers in distant Tokyo, now includes governors, mayors and city councils as well, a potentially unsettling trend because it pits neighbors against neighbors. That trust may also be hard to restore: under pressure from concerned citizens, bureaucrats in Tokyo have expanded their monitoring, but many people doubt that the government’s standards are safe or that officials are doing a thorough enough job of testing.

It did not help that the government recently had to backtrack on the acceptable exposure levels for schoolchildren after a senior government adviser quit in a tearful news conference, saying he did not want children to be exposed to such levels, and parents protested. The recent discovery that radioactive beef made it into stores raised fresh alarms.

“We need to do strict research to make people feel assured,” said Keiichi Miho, the mayor of Nihonmatsu, a city of 60,000 people west of the Daiichi plant. The mayor is one of a growing number of local officials who have tackled the issue directly, spending millions of dollars on steps like creating a radiation map of his city. “That’s the only way to regain credibility.”

Mrs. Okoshi, a lifelong farmer, lives with her 85-year-old mother, and one of her daughters resisted the lure of the cities that has drawn so many Japanese, choosing instead to live under the same roof as her mother and grandmother.

In uncharted territory, Mrs. Okoshi said she apologized to her neighbor for making trouble.


In December 2010, the last time Yoko Ono was at Billboard, she was being honored for a whopping five consecutive No. 1s on the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart. With her just-released single “Talking To The Universe” climbing the same chart, the iconoclastic veteran artist took time out to chat about the DJ community’s affinity for her music, sharing a stage with Lady Gaga (“one of the most awesome pied pipers the world ever had”), Twitter, and her continuing work protecting and curating her late husband John Lennon‘s music and legacy.

Billboard.com: “Talking To The Universe” is vying to be your next hit on Billboard’s Dance/Club Play chart. You already have a slew of No. 1s on that chart. Were you surprised when your music was embraced by the DJ community? How has that, in turn, influenced how you make music?

Yoko Ono: Many of my songs were dance orientated from way back. That’s because I LOVE DANCE! When I hear a dance number, just hearing the first eight bars, it immediately makes my bod start moving and dancing. That’s how I was from a long, long time ago. I can’t help it. But now that I am very involved with making dance tracks, I feel I finally came home!


One thing I didn’t know, and now I know: DJs are in incredible competition, musically. And they are the most musically creative and sensitive people in all the music charts. I am amazed how they are. Without their creativity, my songs could never have become No. 1. I have so much respect and love for the DJs on the dance chart, you just don’t know. One day, the dance charts will be the biggest chart in the music world. Because we all need to dance. This planet will be a fun planet when the judges in court will end the day with a dance!


Is there someone you would especially like to have remix your work?

I would love to see a repeat performance of Chairman Mao and Nixon… with John [Lennon] mixing [his] song “We’re All Water.”


What are your plans for new music? Is there a new album in the works? Are there any collaborations with artists from the dance or rock worlds that are afoot?
Yes. You hit the spot. There is something in the works. But I’m not telling.


You performed with Lady Gaga last fall. How did that come about and what was performing with her like?

It was really exciting to perform with a lady who just made herself into a legend in two weeks… or was it two years? I think everything about her is worthy of being mentioned in the Guinness Book of World Records.


Video:Yoko Ono And Lady Gaga Perform Together


What did you think of Gaga after meeting her? What do you think of her music and career trajectory?
She is just being herself. She can’t help it! But the other side of the story is that she is one of the most awesome pied pipers the world ever had. Being close to her amazing energy is waking yourself up to the future of the Universe.  Bless her.

When you spoke with Billboard last fall you said your role in terms of John’s catalog and legacy was as “protector.” What are your thoughts on the warm reception to the reissues of his solo work that you oversaw last fall in time for his 70th birthday?
Humbly, with all my heart, I’d like to say thank you to the Universe. Thank you, Universe.
You have been in the music industry for almost 40 years. In this age of digital distribution and social media, where the labels have a far different role than they used to, what advice can you give to artists about having a career that is creative, long and lucrative?


Nothing is written in stone. So don’t prepare yourself for a long and lucrative career. You might die tomorrow. Your gold holdings might become dust. Just make the music you want to make now and enjoy it. That’s what music can give you: the kind of fun moment that will be good for your health. Maybe nobody else will hear it. Well, too bad for them!


Your tweets  (@yokoono) are often almost like Fluxus cards from the 60s art movement. Do you see that medium as an art as well?


Tweets? Of course, it’s art! It’s the latest most exciting art we have now. I am thrilled to bits! I hope you are not questioning it.


You’ve helped The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame put together an upcoming Beatles exhibit. What item in it is the most special to you?


I totally enjoyed all of it. Everything in it is so special, you just can’t pick one out of it.


Is there any aspect of art — music, visual arts, performing arts, film, writing — that you haven’t delved into that you want to get onto your long list of accomplishments?


Eulogy. How about that? Lately, I am asked to write a eulogy quite often for my friends who passed away. I like to think that I make them smile with what I remember about them. I have one for myself.  I want it carved on stone saying: Here lies a woman who was in love with the Planet Earth and she still is.











YANGON, Myanmar — Lei Yadi Min, a over 1 year-old baby girl, possesses 12 fingers — six each hand, and 14 toes — 7 each foot – setting the new world record for having the Most fingers and toes.

Guinness World Records recognized two previous record holders: The person with the most fingers and toes was Pranamya Menaria (India)who has 25 in total (12 fingers and 13 toes). The person with the most fingers and toes was Devendra Harne (India) who has 25 in total (12 fingers and 13 toes).

Competing with Lei Yadi Min for the world record is also an Indian rival, who owns eight toes each foot.

At present, two Indian children, one over 5 years old and the other over 15 years old with 12 fingers and 13 toes, are registered in Guinness World Records.

 The Guinness world record for the most fingers and toes at birth was set by an anonymous six-year-old boy who was admitted to a hospital in Shenyang, Liaoning province, China, with 31 fingers and toes (15 fingers and 16 toes).

  Lei Yadi Min is now living with her mother and sister in South Okkalarpa township in Yangon.







Fetishes on Parade

Toshihiko Mizuno, 55, was arrested in Tokyo in June after three girls, ages 9 and 10, reported that he had talked them into spitting for him so that he could record it on video, to assist with “research” he was doing on “saliva.” Police later discovered 26 videotapes, featuring about 400 young girls spitting. According to local media sources, Mizuno has had the obsession for 17 years, successfully getting at least 500 girls to spit, among the estimated 4,000 he propositioned.

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